6 barriers to healthcare interoperability, according to ONC

There are six overarching barriers limiting the electronic exchange of health information between hospitals today, according to a report prepared by the ONC.

The ONC filed the 22-page report to Congress as a year-end summary on nationwide trends in health information exchange in 2018, including the adoption of EHRs and other technologies that support electronic access to patient information.

"HHS is committed to the use of health IT to support the free flow of health information for patients, healthcare providers and payers as well as to promote competition in healthcare markets," the report reads.

Six challenges inhibiting electronic data exchange in healthcare, as described by the ONC:

1. Technical barriers. "These limit interoperability through — for example — a lack of standards development, data quality, and patient and healthcare provider data matching."

2. Financial barriers. "These relate to the costs of developing, implementing and optimizing health IT to meet frequently changing requirements of healthcare programs," including lack of incentives for sharing information and need for business models for secondary uses of data.

3. Trust barriers. "Legal and business incentives to keep data from moving present challenges. Health information networks and their participants often treat individuals' electronic health information as an asset that can be restricted to obtain or maintain competitive advantage."

4. Administrative requirements. "Federal documentation and administrative requirements (including billing requirements) contribute to health IT burden due to outdated guidelines for evaluation and management codes that unnecessarily link payment to documentation."

5. Reporting requirements. "Federal reporting requirements in some cases add burden to healthcare providers by requiring them to report on quality measures that are not relevant or meaningful."

6. IT usability. "Health IT system design and usability barriers identified by stakeholders include ... variations in the design [of user-interfaces] that make day-to-day use complicated when a healthcare provider uses multiple systems and the lack of developer engagement with end users of health IT regarding design needs."

To download the ONC's report, click here.

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